His Favorites

“That Kate Walbert has managed to write a novel that is riveting, terrifying, and yet always charmingly buoyant, speaks volumes to how well she understands women. If you’re trying to figure out what’s going on, how these things happen, read His Favorites. It is exactly the book for our times.”
Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth


“Walbert is a masterly and rich purveyor of female characters…His Favorites isn’t a simple narrative of trauma and survival, but something more challenging and potentially more valuable -a reckoning not just with the reality of abuse, but with the pernicious ways it can shape and inform everything, even the stories you tell yourself.” -Sophie Gilbert, The New York Times Book Review
“Kate Walbert's most powerful novel yet is a case study in the perversities of power imbalances. This slim but by no means slight novel continues Walbert's explorations of how society's sexual biases and constraints have hampered women, a theme that has driven all six of her books…Walbert, known for sophisticated, multiply-stranded narratives that span generations, has pared her new novel into a sharp blade… Walbert's novel is fueled by gorgeous writing as well as moral outrage … heartbreaking and galvanizing.” -Heller McAlpin, NPR.org
“A layered, time-bending book that depicts the lingering effects of abuse…there will be no mistaking Walbert for anything but devastatingly relevant.” -Lauren Mechling, Vogue
“Before things turn treacherous, there’s a moment when predation can feel dangerously like kindness. A young person, not yet aware of his or her power, is made to feel special–and then it’s too late. Kate Walbert, author of His Favorites, understands this…[His Favorites] begs to be read. In just 149 efficient pages, she urges us to remember that sharing–and listening–are only the first steps toward righting a culture.” -Lucy Feldman, Time
“Master…wears ripped jeans, drinks bourbon, and dispenses sanctimonious advice: ‘Understand the beauty of a declarative sentence.’ The novel testifies to the cruel manipulation of this dictum…decades later Jo turns his advice against him, and gives the testimony that forms this short and piercing book.” -The New Yorker
“With sparse, lyrical language, author of His Favorites, Kate Walbert, shines a light on women’s rights as she tells us about Jo’s tragic and unsettling experiences…This is an important book for all to read – life is not always easy but we must all lift each other up, protect one another and stand up for our rights and others. I highly recommend this one.” -Jennifer Blankfein, BookTrib
“Rendered in crystalline, matter-of-fact prose relating the narrator’s own emotional numbness and distancing, this self-aware metanovel is well timed for our current political era. Walbert packs a punch.” -Library Journal, STARRED review
“Taut, powerful…Jo narrates with brutal honesty…Her story, filled with rage and regret and intensified by its searing portrait of self-aware, self-destructive teenage girls, provides a case history in male-female relationships built on an imbalance of power.” -Publishers Weekly, STARRED review


  • Best Books of 2018, NPR
  • Best 18 books of 2018, The Atlantic Magazine
  • IndieNext pick, 2018
  • New York Times Editors Choice, 2018

Audio Excerpt